We Admit It! Committee is moving along well. In fact we have more behind us than in front of us. We’ve enjoyed digging back into reading season and laying the foundation for the Class of 2018. We’ve also enjoyed numerous snacks (the fruit snacks have been devoured, the Cheeze-Its are half-way gone, one bag of frosted animal crackers has come and gone and multiple cookie packs, chip packs, granola bars and candy bars have been consumed – for those of you concerned for our health, the bag of dried fruit is also empty). For the last “Overheard in Committee” blog from the 2013 Early Decision review, we thought we’d address an often discussed Committee topic.
Overheard in Committee today: That’s an impressive upward grade trend.
We were discussing a student who had improved from mostly Bs in 9th grade to all As in 11th grade. In GPA terms he had earned a GPA of 3.4 (weighted) in his freshman year and a 4.3 weighted GPA for his junior year. That’s a significant improvement to say the least. And his grades continued to improve as the course work got harder (he had only a few honors classes in 9th grade when his GPA was the lowest but had all honors and AP classes in 11th grade when he earned his best GPA).
With grade trends, we’d much rather see them on an upward trajectory than a downward one (that probably goes without saying). Oftentimes, outlier grades or significant blips in an academic record are accompanied by an explanation. However, many upward and downward trends are not (which is perfectly fine). In the case of upward trends we generally assume the earlier low grades are due either to the transition to high school and/or an underdeveloped work ethic (the increased work ethic tends to come with increased maturity which is a natural part of development during high school). Downward grade trends are most often caused by the transition into more challenging courses and the accompanying workloads and increased teacher expectations. Some students will dip initially and then rebound, others will continue the downward trend year after year.
What we’re evaluating here is a student’s overall work ethic and achievement record and whether both are at a level that will allow them to be successful at William & Mary. And of course we’re comparing those with both upward and downward grade trends to those who have maintained consistent academic records (remember, there are students who have demonstrated incredibly strong grades throughout high school). Of course, grades/grade trends are just one piece of this puzzle. Sometimes those with upward trends may have great other qualities (standardized testing, extracurricular activities, academic potential, intellectual curiosity, etc.) that help to balance the less stellar early grades. Likewise for those who have slight but not worrisome downward grade trends. At the end of the day, what the Committee is considering is whether we believe the student has adequately prepared themselves to be successful academically at W&M and how that student compares (both academically and personally) with the other great students applying for admission.
With that, we will head back to Committee (these decisions won’t make themselves after all). We wish everyone a wonderful holiday weekend and look forward to being in touch in December.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ‘09
Associate Dean of Admission
PS: We know Early Decision applicants are eager to receive their decisions. While we do not have a release date as of yet, we do know that decisions will be released after December 1 (in other words at some point after the Thanksgiving holiday). We continue to appreciate everyone’s patience as we make our way through the review and Committee processes.